Social Media and Generous
Strangers New Friends
As we mentioned earlier, we were told on several occasions that we were crazy for not heading up to Northern Michigan and explore the hidden pockets of this state. Especially at this time of year. And, boy, are we glad that we did.
Our four days in Northern Michigan (which were not nearly enough) were a highlight of this trip. We cannot wait to come back again and see more, do more, eat more and explore more.
We were absolutely overwhelmed and inspired by the generosity and welcome-ness of you Michiganers. You absolutely blew us away and filled us with joy and we will treasure those days in Michigan – well, forever.
Fact: Before October 3rd, we had never heard of Grand Haven, Leland, Holland, or Leelanau County .
Fact: We had no idea there was an upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Fact: We didn’t know how large and beautiful Lake Michigan was.
Fact: We didn’t know the leaves of trees could be so vibrant and stunning.
Fact: We didn’t know what Yoopers meant, we didn’t know it was even a term.
Fact: Did you know that Michigan likes the phrase “mitten love” and “pure michigan”.
Ever heard of ArtPrize? Nope, neither had we.
Our friend Molly had connected us with her childhood friend Renee who lives in Grand Rapids. Through Facebook.
Unfortunately, Renee was out of town when we were there and we didn’t have the chance meet her. But, that didn’t stop her from from sending us the most extensive and detailed list of things to see and do in Michigan. Renee, if it weren’t for you, we would have missed so many opportunities along the way. We cannot thank you enough. We so hope to have the chance to meet you one day (soon!) and return the favor!
Many of you are on Instagram, or have at least heard of Instagram, but I am not sure if you realize the impact or extent it can have beyond simply looking at a photo and hitting the “like” button. I (Cate) sure didn’t. There are so many photographers, local artists, musicians and local folks that I follow on a daily basis and am inspired by their photos. They make me want to be a better photographer, giving me an opportunity to see shots and images in a different light and angle. Their photos encourage me, their photos mean something to me. Maybe to you too.
Over the last year, I would use Instagram as a tool. When I would travel to a new city or town, I would search words and phrases associated with the country or town I was visiting to see where people were eating, what people were doing, what people were seeing. Because of Instagram, there are so many places I visited or ate at because of a photo I saw.
When we started planning this trip, I (Cate) started searching different hashtags and users in states we were planning to visit. Michigan was not one I was searching specifically. Through my searches though I came across two users that I began to follow. emilyalt1 and Miles Upon Miles. I didn’t know who these people were, but their photos were beautiful, simple, inspiring and I enjoyed looking at their daily posts. After some time, I visited Miles Upon Miles (Grace and Josh) and emilyalt1 (Emily)’s websites to learn more about them and their journeys. Both appeared to have traveled and/or were traveling.
Little did I know (at the time), but they were both from Michigan.
I emailed Emily and Grace (Miles Upon Miles) telling them about our trip, a little about Michelle and me, how I had found them on Instagram and was inspired by their photos. I asked them if they had any ideas or thoughts on things to do or see while in Michigan.
What would come next was more than either of us could have imagined. We have so much to say about our experiences with Grace and Emily (and their friends and family) that we are going to be writing about those in a separate blog, so keep reading!
But, I wanted to just write for a moment on the subject of social media and the impact it has had on our trip thus far – and on us. I know everyone has their own ideas, thoughts and opinions on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (and other various social media forums), this isn’t a blog about the pros vs. cons, but more to share what we have experienced.
We have been completely overwhelmed and honored and humbled with the response of our trip in just these last three weeks through social media outlets, specifically Instagram. We have had complete strangers, people we have never met start to follow our blog. We have had people write to us, people from around the country, who have heard about our trip telling us how much they are enjoying following our journey and how they too wish they could be doing what we are doing. Asking us to keep posting photos and updates as it is inspirational to them and what gets them through their days.
Social media, specifically Instagram, has brought us, already, in this short time, new friends and has provided us “homes” in several of the towns we have visited. There is something so beautiful about this. Something beautiful about sharing your story, sharing your journey with someone who wants to in turn share theirs with you. And, be part of yours.
Instagram is a community. A community to connect with the world, with our country, with friends – new and old. It’s pretty wild, isn’t it?